Shoes

posted 12 June 2018

Imagine you lived in a world where all there was only one kind of shoe, in a single size, called "medium". Everybody wears these shoes and no other shoes are available.

Most people do in fact have medium-sized feet. For most people this world would be totally fine, and since there was only one kind of shoe available, they'd probably not think about their shoes very much. They've got some shoes, no further decisions to be made.

But it wouldn't work for everybody.

Some people have smaller feet. People with smaller feet would find the shoes really annoying. For people with slightly smaller feet, the shoes might just flop around uncomfortably. For people with really small feet the shoes would fall off all the time. They'd get annoyed with the stupid shoes and they'd stuff newspaper into the toes to make them fit. It would work, and probably nobody would even be aware that their shoes don't fit properly.

Some people have bigger feet. People with only slightly larger feet would find the shoes uncomfortable. They might get calluses, or the heel might cut up their ankle and hurt a lot, but not so much they couldn't walk. But people with really big feet would find the shoes excruciating. Every step would be agony. They might want to stop walking altogether.

This is how I've come to understand gender. Most people, the gender they were handed at birth suits them just fine, and they don't even think about it. For other people, their gender isn't great but they can make it work with some extra effort. But for others, their gender is excruciating. Every step reminds them that these shoes don't fit, that something is wrong, that they need to change things.

The revolution in gender identity that's going on isn't just about the people who identify as trans, the people whose shoes fit so badly they had to change them no matter the cost. It's the realization for everybody that shoes come in every size. Maybe your shoes are fine, but it gives you the opportunity to explore: what if a couple sizes larger or smaller? Would that be more comfortable? What if I don't want to wear any shoes at all?

And of course, not only can we get shoes in different sizes, we can get them in different colors and styles. Some shoes look kind of ridiculous, especially if you've only ever seen standard, medium-sized shoes up until now. But for some people some brightly-colored new shoes are just what they've always needed. And why should anyone object? If somebody else changes their shoes it doesn't do anything to the shoes you're wearing, except maybe make you wonder if you need some new ones.

My shoes didn't always fit perfectly, so I got a slightly different size twenty years ago. Nobody noticed the shoes had changed, but they did notice that I walked more easily.

How are your shoes?

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